Event on intergartion of refugees in European cities
The URBAN Intergroup jointly with the European Investment Bank (EIB) organised a conference “How Europe’s towns and cities can address current refugee crises?” The event took place on Wednesday April 6th in Brussels’ EIB Office.
In the welcoming speech, Mr Mikołaj Dowgielewicz, Permanent Representative of the EIB to the EU, stressed that the EIB’s aim is to trying to help Members States and cities to handle in the most appropriate way investments needed to respond the unprecedented refugee’s crisis. Jan Olbrycht, President of the URBAN Intergroup, explained that “we need to reflect about the current situation EU cities are facing, but also about the evolution of the whole migration process in the future. Moreover, we should think about the instruments to solve immediately the most urgent problems, and what should be changed in the functioning of the cities.”
The first session of the event focused on the integration of refugees from the EU institutions’ perspective. Representatives of the DG Migration and Home Affairs and of the DG Regional and Urban Policy from the European Commission presented the available instruments to tackle the crisis and possibilities to use them. It has been underlined that from the beginning of the refugee’s crisis, European cities showed great generosity to welcome migrants.
The aim of the second session was to present the issue of refugee’s integration from the European towns and cities perspective. Lambert van Nistelrooij, Vice-president of the URBAN Intergroup, who moderated this part of the seminar, stressed that mayor’s are at the political lead in hosting refugees. CEMR representative drew attention to the fact that the EU institutions and Members States need coordination to better distribute refugees in the whole territory, between big but also small and medium size European cities. EUROCITIES representative presented the main points of its recent report on refugees’ perception and their integration in cities, as well as EUROCITIES statement on asylum in cities. At the end of the meeting, the representative of the city of Amsterdam presented the (issue of the) inclusion of migrants and refugees in the EU Urban Agenda partnership.
In conclusion, Jan Olbrycht noticed that “we are now observing just the beginning of a long-term migration process in the European Union”. The European institutions must therefore start the rethinking of its statistics and reviewing its policies for the future.
EU Prize for contemporary architecture – meeting in Strasbourg on February 4th
Last meeting of the URBAN Intergroup, which took place on Thursday February 4th at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, was dedicated to the biennial European Union Prize for contemporary architecture/Mies van der Rohe Awards.
This Prize was created in 1988 jointly by the European Commission and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation in Barcelona and is currently supported by Creative Europe Programme. It is the most prestigious architecture prize for finished constructions in Europe.
The presentation of EU Prize for contemporary architecture and its potential contribution to EU policies was made by Monica Urian, European Commission, DG Education and Culture, Creative Europe Programme. At the beginning of the meeting a trailer showed the reflection of architects across Europe about a European Identity in architecture. Afterwards, a big development of the Prize has been presented since its creation. The role of the unique archive with all nominated projects was underlined as well as the whole organizational network. During the discussion MEPs particular appreciated collected data base on contemporary architectural trends and analyses made which shows among others typologies of recently constructed buildings in Europe. In conclusion, participants of the meeting discussed how to further developed this unique EU Prize and link it to the policy making.
In 2015 Prize edition 420 nominated projects were selected from which the Jury members shortlisted 40 of them. Five finalist works competed for the Prize and one Emerginng Architect was chosen. The winner of 2015 edition is Philharmonic Hall in Szczecin, in Poland.
Sustainable urban mobility – meeting in Strasbourg on January 21st
URBAN Intergroup met at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday January 21st to discuss the topic of urban mobility. Karima Delli, vice-president of the URBAN Intergroup and European Parliament rapporteur of the INI report, presented the key points of the EP resolution on sustainable urban mobility adopted in plenary on the 2nd of December 2015.
At the beginning of the presentation, Ms Delli underlined that there is a social and climate emergency linked with and to be dealt by the transport sector. She presented some of the problems related to transport such as pollution and road accidents. Every year, about 430,000 Europeans die prematurely due to fine particles mainly emitted by diesel engines. Nearly 42,000 deaths are also caused by road accidents every year in Europe, with an estimated cost of €45 billion.
The EP resolution emphasised the importance of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans in achieving EU targets regarding the CO2 emissions, air pollution and accident reduction. It calls Member States to promote public transport with the view to increase its use by 2030, to support the development of innovative forms of mobility and to set up ambitious targets for cycling rates by 2030.
Karima Delli pointed out the current problem of the ‘use of revenues’ principle with regard to road charging. She called for a proportion of revenue from the use of road infrastructure (road charging and/or Eurovignette) to be dedicated to improving sustainable urban mobility.
During the discussion, MEPs noticed that the urban mobility was one of the 12 thematic objectives of the EU Urban Agenda. They also stressed that the work of the future partnership should take on board the European Parliament position on sustainable urban mobility. Moreover, participants agreed that one of the first pilot partnerships dedicated to air quality should take on board the issue of transport and mobility.
Urban priorities of the upcoming Dutch presidency – meeting in Strasbourg on November 26th
URBAN Intergroup’s members and partners met on Thursday November 26th at the European Parliament in Strasbourg with Nicolaas Beets, Dutch Urban Envoy. Mr Beets presented priorities of the upcoming Dutch presidency in the field of urban development. He explained that the goals for the Dutch EU presidency will be to launch the EU Urban Agenda by endorsing the Pact of Amsterdam, launching first partnerships and adopting Council conclusions on the EU Urban Agenda. During the presentation, a list of 12 themes of the EU Urban Agenda has been presented as well as the working method -partnerships. Mr Beets confirmed that 4 themes – and not 3 as previously confirmed by the European Commission – will be implemented as “pilot” partnerships. Those are: housing, inclusion of migrants and refugees, urban poverty and air quality (as the new one). MEPs raised questions concerning practical issues how to join the partnerships and on the possible role of the European Parliament in the whole process of the EU Urban Agenda.
Launching event- Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda
The URBAN Intergroup co-hosted a conference “Transition towards sustainable and liveable urban futures” which took place on Tuesday September 29th at the European Parliament in Brussels. During the event Joint Programming Initiative URBAN Europe launched Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda.
Lambert van Nistelrooij, Vice-President of the URBAN Intergroup, in his conclusions underlined that the event was a “very important initiative” especially in the context of the ongoing works on the EU Urban Agenda. He invited JPI Urban Europe to organise in the future at the European Parliament another meeting to show concrete effects of the implementation of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda.
This event was co-organised with JPI Urban Europe (Member State-led initiative set up in 2010 to strengthen European research and innovation in the field of urban development), STOA (European Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Assessment unit) and DG Research and Innovation of the European Commission.
Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) has been developed by JPI Urban Europe “with the ambition to set a scene for and ensure its contribution to a new urban research and innovation paradigm. The SRIA tackles the complexity of urbanisation by bridging the innovation space from strategic research to implementation. It promotes new ways to facilitate urban transition towards sustainable, resilient and liveable urban areas.” JPI Urban Europe